Welsh / Lobby antics serve up old political memories

AN occupation by tent-embassy activists of the Lobby restaurant has thrust the almost derelict Parkes building back into the limelight with many stories from the iconic establishment’s halcyon days exhumed.

Mike Welsh

Mike Welsh.

In 2012 Mungo McCallum chronicled some cracking yarns including when then-G-G Sir John Kerr slipped under the table after too much port and Treasurer Jim Cairns being hand-fed strawberries by his secretary Junie Morosi.

And on November 11, 1975, lunchers at the Lobby witnessed Laurie Oakes uncharacteristically leaving a half glass of red wine and “sprinting” back to Parliament House instinctively knowing a monumental story was breaking.

MEANWHILE the Lobby is now firmly back in the hands of owners the National Capital Authority and secured by a construction fence around its perimeter.

But while inside the building the protesters calling themselves the Landlord Ngunnawal Custodians did observe another “institution”. After “reclaiming” the site as an extension to the existing Tent Embassy a call went out on social media for a TV to be donated so that Tuesday’s big two-miler could be watched inside the famous function centre.

THE choice of Melbourne Cup venues and outfits of our political leaders could have not been more extreme. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull donned an Akubra and headed to the Tamworth races to campaign with local member Barnaby Joyce, while Labor Leader Bill Shorten rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous in a corporate marquee at Flemington. When bailed up by fashion media with the vacuous “who are you wearing?” question the Opposition Leader was coy, deferring to wife Chloe to describe his outfit. Shorten is dressed by one of Canberra’s most exclusive menswear stores, which has been outfitting men since the mid 1950s.

FURTHER speculating on Shorten’s imminent occupation of The Lodge was 3AW’s Tom Elliott during a chat with Fenner MP Andrew Leigh. Elliott put to Dr Leigh: “Say you’re the next Treasurer or Assistant Treasurer, and you’ll be in government pretty soon, do you honestly think you’ll be able to extract more tax out of the so-called big end of town?”

The warm fave for next Treasurer responded with his customary confidence: “Absolutely”.

YOU have been warned: if you are tempted to overstay your parking time limit this summer, don’t.

New licence-plate recognition technology removes the “sporting chance” in avoiding a parking ticket.

The Barr government says the technology, which can inspect more than 500 vehicles per hour, is “mounted in a car and takes infrared photos to electronically chalk cars”. Parking inspectors who regularly bear the brunt of verbal abuse and threats of violence will benefit, according to a PR blurb, as “the new technology is freeing up more parking spaces and allowing foot-patrol inspectors to target illegal and unsafe parking”.

The big, black truck with the “HEAR5E’ numberplate. Photo by Mike Welsh

IF you haven’t noticed the higher than usual number of large trucks trundling through the streets of Canberra, you may have spotted one stand-out: a large and mean-looking 908 Kenworth painted in flat black and straight from a “Mad Max” movie set. The tandem tippers are busy hauling loads of excavation fill out of the ANU and other construction sites and the menacing mover, sporting yellow NSW rego HEAR5E plates and plastic skeletons swinging inside the cabin, continues to turn heads.

RINGSIDE seats in the ACT Legislative Assembly may be at a premium after Marquess of Queensberry rules almost overtook parliamentary procedure. Reportedly, CM Andrew “Bam Bam” Barr and former Liberal Leader Jeremy “The Hitman” Hanson verbally locked horns during committee hearings, almost requiring the matter “to be taken outside” to be sorted.

JUST in time for Christmas for the Defence Christian who has everything, a waterproof “Bible”. A new, waterproof “New Testament”, for each of the three arms of the ADF, was launched in Canberra recently. Air Commodore Kevin Russell, the director-general of Chaplaincy Air Force, says: “To have a ‘New Testament’ that matches the uniform, fits in pockets and is waterproof makes it very durable and can be taken anywhere”.

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